On the Fourth of July, we celebrate the birth of America.
There will be parades and fireworks, barbecues, picnics, carnivals, fairs, baseball games, speeches and ceremonies, etc.
We will talk about our history and tradition.
We will speak of freedom and liberty.
We will remember our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, and the grand ideas it shows us. The most familiar words that still guide and inform us.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Yet, when we think about this historical document, sometimes I think we overlook the driving force behind it and the sacrifices made to give birth to our independence.
I'm talking about the 56 men that signed the Declaration of Independence and quite literally signed their lives away.
The following is taken from the closing of the last paragraph from the Declaration:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Our lives. Our fortunes. Our sacred honor.
We understand the first two but it's very hard to grasp the concept of sacred honor in today's society. We hardly commit to anything and stick with it.
To put it simply in Texas Holdem Poker terms, these men we're "all in."
They held nothing back.
And their losses were many.
They lost houses and lands, children and families, their health, their fortunes, their liberty, their reputations, their friendships, etc. For many it cost them everything, even their lives.
Every year at this time, as we celebrate, I've tried to make it a tradition to read the Declaration to my children. I hope they will read it to their children someday.
We read the names of the 56 signers aloud and say "thank you."
I think we owe them that much.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine